Book rant

I’m taking a break from my usual nostalgia to bring you a rant on an entirely different type of book. Celebrity parenting books.

Parenting is big business, and there is no shortage of books and blogs out there to make any parent (though these are marketed almost exclusively to mothers) feel like they are doing something wrong. From the HuffPo blogger who told us about the ten mistakes she is just sure we’re making as parents ,to the dipshit mom who took most of her kids toys- including the comforters off their beds- away because she doesn’t know how to parent through her kid wanting a dinosaur toy or refusing to clean up a mess, moms are constantly being bombarded with advice (much of it bad), psuedoscience (I’m looking at you, anti-vaxxers), and constant pressure to do everything 100% perfectly. (The toy-less mom is the blogpost that started my hate-rage against mom bloggers. I have so many feelings on this post, but I don’t want to interrupt my stream of thought. So check below by the asterisk* where I’ll go in to my many criticisms of it.)

It’s bad enough when Dr. Sears is trying to shill whatever products on his website under the guise of M.D.-provided parenting advice (seriously. Check out the multitude of products on the sidebar of his website.) But when the chick who has no degree but DOES have a spread in Playboy joins in the fun? Oh, hell to the fucking no.

Jenny McCarthy was known at first for her boobs, then as the talentless half of the Singled Out hosts, and later became known for being the loudest voice in the ‘vaccines cause autism’ debate. Which, is really not a debate because the guy who first wrote about it in a journal admitted to fraudulent science. But even after that memo and thirty-plus additional studies that debunked the vaccine link, Jenny McCarthy continued to proudly tell us to not protect our kids against pertussis. And then this happened. So thank god she’s been given a platform by book publishers, amirite?.

Alicia Silverstone was known at first for being the girl in the Aerosmith videos in the 90’s, and then as Cher on Clueless. Then she was known for nothing for a while. Then she had a baby and wrote a book about it! In her book, this millionaire mother tells us all that we should be attachment parents. Despite the fact that the majority of American mothers HAVE TO GO TO FUCKING WORK and aren’t living off the many dollars earned being in music videos,  and in movies, and writing parenting books. In response to her critics, Alicia states “I am confident in my choices. And I trust my intuition when it comes to parenting.” But, she wants you to not trust your instincts too much – because otherwise, you wouldn’t need to buy her book.

And that’s what this all comes down to. There’s a whole industry of parenting books and parenting blogs that try to do nothing but make us question ourselves so they can cash in. The last time I was at Barnes & Noble, it practically broke my heart to see how many shelves were devoted to parenting and child care books. It breaks my heart every time one of my friends posts a link to a mommy-blog instructing us on what we’re doing wrong. Especially when it’s posted by a friend who I know damn well is a great mother!

So,come on moms. Just stop it already. Stop letting the bloggers and the celebrities and the unethical doctors tell you what to do. You have have parenting instincts. I know you do. You can be a good mom all on your own. And if you need advice? There are plenty of places to turn, including your friends and family, and actual trustworthy pediatricians to answer all your questions. Use your instincts to determine what is good advice and what is shitty advice.

Just for funsies, here’s a list of celeb parenting books. (Some of these may be more memoir-ish. I wouldn’t know because I’ve never fucking read one. Obviously.)

  • Jenny McCarthy. Three books! Belly Laughs, Baby Laughs, and Louder Than Words
  • Alicia Silverstone; Kind Mama
  • Mayim Bialik; Beyond the Sling
  • Soliel Moon Frye; Happy Chaos
  • Tori Spelling; Mommywood
  • Alec Baldwin; A Promise to Ourselves
  • Michelle Duggar; A Love that Multiplies
  • This one book called What they know about Parenting, which is a compendium of celeb-parent knowledge. It includes goodies from Gwyneth Paltrow, Donald Trump (wtf), Adam Sandler, Reese Witherspoon, Denzel Washington, Sarah Jessica Parker and many, many more.

These people do NOT know more about parenting their kids than you do. Trust me.

*OK. The dipshit mom who took her kids toys away. I have so many strong negative feelings about this post.

  • The title is obviously click-bait. And when you see the number of comments on the post, she’s clearly made quite a bit of money from the title.
  • The defensive tone. If she’s so confident about her choice, why is she so defensive right away? It’s like she knows she has something she needs to be overly-defensive about.
  • The comforter thing. Look, take the toys away. Whatever. But a comforter is WHAT KEEPS YOUR KIDS WARM AT NIGHT. Giving your kids a warm bed isn’t spoiling them. It’s kind of a bare minimum of parenting. Then she said that they’ve since “earned” the comforters back. What the fuck oh my god I can’t even.
  • She only left toys that are good for their imaginations. Fine, those are great toys! But there are other toys that are worthwhile, but which aren’t imagination building. Puzzles are great for kids, but not necessarily their imaginations. Board games are and awesome way to teach kids about fair play and being a good sport, but again aren’t imagination building. Jump ropes, pogo sticks, sports balls, bicycles, etc are all amazing things to have for reasons outside imagination.
  • After all this purging of toys, her kids’ room is nearly bare (even fucking comforter-less, as I may have mentioned before). This raises the question: What the fuck kind of toys did they have to begin with? My kids have a good amount of toys. But if I got rid of everything that didn’t stimulate imagination (or the exceptions I listed above, because I’m not an idiot) I’d only be getting rid of maybe 10% of their toys.
  • So she got rid of the vast majority of her kids’ toys. What did she get rid of her own? What’s that? Oh right, only her kids have to make sacrifices evidently. She posted a picture of her kids’ bedroom and it is fucking HUGE. This leads me to believe that they live in a house that is also huge. Are they downsizing? (Because I could give her tips on living with two kids in a small 2BR condo.) Of course. The big house can’t be sacrificed. Did she sacrifice her wardrobe? Her kitchen gadgets? Her computer? Her cable TV? Her car? Her shoes? Her makeup? Her furniture? Did she take away her OWN goddamned comforter? Did her husband make sacrifices? Did he get rid of his computer? His car? His suits? His furniture? Does her bedroom look as bare as her kids’?
  • In the pictures of her home, it seems her house is bereft of books. An book-less house is a sad house.
  • But the one thing that really twists my knickers? I actually agree with her premise. I think kids do have too much and that they do better with less. Hell, my husband and I could afford a bigger home, but one of the reasons we specifically choose condo-life with two kids and a dog is because we don’t want to be tempted by stuff. But like everything in life, moderation is key. And this woman seems to have no concept of it. There’s a happy-medium between too much and nothing. She takes toys out one at a time. And these are all ‘imagination building’ toys. So her kids play with Polly Pockets or Lego. But heaven forbid they use their imaginations to build a Lego house for their Polly Pockets. They get dolls or dress ups. But they have no opportunity to build blanket forts for their dolls – especially since they have no comforters.  I don’t think taking toys away to built their imagination works the way she thinks it will. And call me crazy, but when my kids get to be teenagers and are invariably going to rebel against what I’ve tried to teach them, I’m happier that they do it with beer and pot, rather than by hoarding.
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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
This entry was posted in general, non-book review, rant, really awful books. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Book rant

  1. (The obligatory ‘not a parent but!’)
    I agree with you! And I found the same thing (celebs telling me what to do) when I was going through chemotherapy. Apparently, I was eating the wrong things, I was wearing the wrong things, I was feeling the wrong things, I was taking the wrong medications. There are so many books that should be retitled to “Cancer: You’re Doing It Wrong!” It’s spurred me to write my own that says, “yeah, this totally sucks. Here’s what I did to stay sane but do what works for you. Oh and listen to and have a conversation with your doctor.”

    My oncologist told me to eat anything and everything I wanted. He said he’d rather have me alive and with high cholesterol than dead at 25. I asked him about sugar’s effects on cancer and while he said it wasn’t total bunk, I was going to lose a lot of weight and my appetite as the effects of chemo multiplied. Fatty and sugary foods would help keep me strong enough to finish the chemo that would save my life. And he was right! I did lose 30lbs and near the end, my mouth was so full of sores from no immunity that all I could do was have broth and Boost shakes. I ate when I could and I stopped worrying so much about doing cancer ‘right’. I think by letting just letting go and having faith in my meds, I was able to just get through the worst time ever with some grace.

    That was totally off topic but I think parenting is similar. You know what you need to do (feed the baby, play with baby, love the baby) and a lot of it is having faith and trust that things will work out. I think people have a hard time with the second bit since trust is not a tangible thing. There’s no real rubric to measure our parenting (or general life) skills by.

    • nikkihb says:

      Hi! Thanks for commenting. I’m glad to hear you got through chemo successfully. I’ve never been there, but my mom had two bouts with pancreatic cancer and had to go through chemo. Since she only had about a quarter of a pancreas left, she was dealing with trying to gain weight on a severely diabetic diet. It was so hard for her!

      You might like this article, which I just read yesterday. I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to it. Here’s to many more cancer free years for you!
      http://m.xojane.com/healthy/stop-telling-me-how-to-eat-to-cure-my-incurable-disease

  2. Smatsy says:

    So tired of any and all parenting advice ever. I don’t even want to tell people about the choices we have made that are right for us because it just invites conversation about parenting. I don’t even like talking to people who parent the same way that I do.

    BUT we also have 2 kids and 2 bedroom condo, so I’m dying for you to write more about that. My kids are little still, but every once in awhile I get all CAN I STILL MAKE THEM SHARE A ROOM WHEN THEY ARE 8 and 11?!

    • nikkihb says:

      My kids are 7 & 3 and so far are happily sharing a room. It helps that they got bunk beds a few months ago and the novelty of that hasn’t worn off yet. I hope it lasts. I shared a room until I was about 13. I think sharing rooms is good for kids, even if it drives the parents up the wall for a while.

      The main thing with finding space in condos is keeping only what you need (which is hard bc I’m a book hoarder and my 7 year old has a billion legos) and storing UP. We’re getting shelving built in to handle my book collection and I invested in a big Ikea expedit unit for my boys’ closet which houses the legos, among other toys. And you just have to acknowledge that your kids aren’t going to have big toys. When my older was 3, we had an extra corner in his bedroom, and for Christmas had to decide between a play kitchen or an easel. We ended up going with the easel, but now both my kids head right for all their friends’ play kitchens when they’re at someone else’s house. Things get sacrificed when you live small. I say I’m a book hoarder, but I’ve gotten rid of SO MANY. We are a one car family. My kids don’t have big bulky toys. The second my youngest outgrows clothes or toys they get donated to the Goodwill or sent to friends/relatives with littler ones. I scour Pinterest for storage ideas. We make it work 🙂

  3. Nikki, we had a smart mother. That’s why we don’t fall for this dipshit stuff. Seriously, children are not hard. There are some basic rules you need to have in your head, number one (I think) being that you are raising adults, so don’t make them assholes. And then parent according to how you wont make your kid turn into an asshole adult. Go with what your gut tells you most of the time. Unless you are an anti-vaxxer. Then read up on science and ignore your gut.

    • Smatsy says:

      Yes to this – it is so strange how we refer to babies as a thing, as if they are not all actual individual people.

  4. Katrinka says:

    I don’t have much to add other than I love you so hard right now.

  5. L says:

    Regarding the comforter, just so you know, the author did post a follow-up a year later, where she said they live in Florida with their thermostat set to 79, and the girls never actually slept under the comforter to begin with. I think they just used it as a decoration. http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2013/09/13/why-i-took-my-kids-toys-away-one-year-later/

    • nikkihb says:

      That actually doesn’t make me feel any better. So she bought comforters that were completely useless? Then took them away to make some kind of point? Then gave them back? Sorry, that logic defies me. I live in an area where fahrenheit temperatures can range from below 0 in the winter to over 100 in the summer. My kids don’t have comforters, they have quilts. You know why? They DON’T FUCKING NEED COMFORTERS. Why would she give them back? Why not donate them to a fucking children’s shelter in…I don’t know…Chicago or someplace cold that requires comforter-level sleeping arrangements.

      And I STILL want to know if she took her own comforter away.

  6. Carrie-Anne says:

    Awesome post! I’m so tired of the celebrity-worshipping culture, as well as how popular woo (pseudoscience) has become. I’ve become very active in the pro-vaccination community in advocating against all the vaccine-denialist crap. Parents 50, 100, 500 years ago didn’t excitedly throw diphtheria parties, giggle about how awesome it is to have “natural immunity” from getting wild measles, insist all of life’s ills can be avoided or quickly, easily cured by breastmilk and kale smoothies, or shrug off polio as no big deal.

    Michelle Duggar (aka J’Uterus) has no business writing parenting books when she doesn’t even parent. She just pawns her latest J’Baby off on the J’Slaves so she and JimBoob can fill up the sacred quiver yet again. Very telling that her kids are closer with the J’Slaves than with the woman who actually birthed them.

  7. bookworm says:

    Great post! I’m imagining “What they know about parenting” as a blank book. Adam Sandler?

    I’m not a parent, but I had a personal blog a couple years ago called “I will eat my words.” Essentially, it went, “You won’t believe what I saw at work (children’s museum) today! Here’s what I’d do differently!” on whatever I was mad at. (It will probably never go public;it’s kind of funny but WAY judgey and again, I have NO IDEA what I’m talking about.) It was mostly to think about situations before they happened to me and reflect on good vs. bad parenting options. But what it comes down to, my future kid is going to be a little me/husband combo. Between the two of us we can use our brains and instincts and memories to figure out what works, and we know enough people with common sense to give good advice. I think it helps for parents to bounce ideas off each other when there’s an *actual* problem, but let’s not make up problems because someone says I’m doing it wrong.

    Also, I vaguely remember seeing Jenny McCarthy on Ellen once and she claimed that her son’s autism went away because of diet. Erm. Is that a real thing, autism going away? Not symptoms improving, just, poof, away. Oh right, pseudoscience. Le sigh.

    • nikkihb says:

      No, it’s not a real thing. If her son’s autism went away, he was never autistic to begin with. He probably had some sort of metabolic disorder.

  8. sjsiff says:

    I’ve been reviewing the American Girl books, and a lot of the time I find myself thinking about how awesome vaccines are (a couple times babies are described as having illnesses that could be pertussis, and when reading Samantha Learns a Lesson, I thought that the best sign of progress is modern medicine). When my kids get vaccines, I tell them, “I know it hurts a little right now, but it’s so much better than catching the disease.” We have the power to prevent diseases that can cripple, blind, deafen, retard, sterilize, and kill. We made smallpox EXTINCT, and if people stop being idiots about vaccines, polio’s next.

    I have two stock responses to the misconception that vaccines cause autism:

    “Even if that were true, which it isn’t, I’d rather have an autistic child than a dead child.”

    “So according to the faked study, autism symptoms show up around the time of a child’s first MMR vaccine…Autism causes vaccinations!”

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